Food ideas from the strangest places...

Where do you get your food ideas? Most of us pore over cookbooks, cooking magazines like Gourmet, Bon Appetit (both accessible via Epicurious), or Cooks Illustrated (three of my favorites), or hit the Food Network. You might find a great recipe from the back of a package or bottle or can. These days you might hit the Web and check your favorite food sites or blogs (hopefully, you might check this one). When I am looking for something ethnic or unusual, I often just do a search for the dish and then look at the sites that come up until I see a recipe I think I can replicate. You might call a friend or relative to ask for a recipe or idea or food advice.

But what are the most unusual places you have found food inspiration? I can tell you two of mine. First, let me tell you where I got the recipe for my famous pimento cheese. Or I should say where my husband got the recipe for my famous pimento cheese (the artwork at the left should give you a hint). I was in labor with my second child, Katie. While I was in the throes of labor, my husband kept sneaking out to the nurse's station. Finally, I put my foot down and asked what was at the nurse's station that was more important than the impending birth of his child (and my intense pain!). He said, "They have pimento cheese out there. You should taste it, it's really great!" Given the fact that my diet at the time consisted of ice chips, I was not amused. However, we left the hospital with a fabulous daughter (9lb., 11 oz.)... and the pimento cheese recipe!

If you have read my previous posts about my husband's cooking ability and his stint as a pasta bar chef at my daughter's graduation party, you will remember that I mentioned the idea came from an unexpected place... again, the artwork to the right is a hint. After my mother -in-law's funeral service, a wake was held at a nearby officer's club, and there they had a personalized pasta bar. Even though we didn't have much of an appetite that day, it was an idea we held onto until the occasion called for it. Face it, a graduation is a much better occasion for eating than a funeral.
I am including my cheese recipe for you to play with, but let me know where some unusual places you have found culinary inspiration.
"Labor of love" pimento cheese
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise (light mayonnaise is fine)
1/4-1/2 cup salsa (adjust the mayo and salsa according to your taste)
1 4 oz. jar chopped pimentos
Put all ingredients except pimentos into bowl of food processor and mix until smooth. Stir in pimentos. Chill and serve.
Note: This spread keeps very well. I usually make a double batch and store in plastic containers in the fridge.


Sara said…
I've always wanted to try pimento cheese, thanks for the recipe!
Deborah Dowd said…
Please experiment and make it your own- by adjusting the amount and kind of salsa and mayo, you can make it spicier, and I have combined different kinds of cheddar when that was all I had. Once you know the basic components, you can just go with it! Thanks for the comment and keep checking back!
Kathy Maister said…
I agree, the best source of recipes is, of course, from family and friends. I also get some great recipes from the advertisers of a product. Those pull out cards in magazines often not only have the recipe but also a photo of the finished product. Manufacturers don’t want to associate their name with a recipe that isn’t perfect, so these are usually really good. That’s how I discovered my favorite Holiday Cookie recipe! Cheers!
Alanna said…
Mine came from the BACK of an article my sister clipped and mailed, something about mothers. She hadn't even noticed the recipe!

As it turned out, some years later, it was the recipe published in the very first column of Kitchen Parade, the food column my Mom started in 1959, which I started to write after she died.

Funny how these things go.
Jessica said…
I get a lot of ideas from I use the site to create my weekly menus too.

Congratulations on the review in Epicurious! Fantastic blog you have; I look forward to reading more.